In this collection of two plays about the process of children becoming adults, Drew Hayden Taylor works his delightfully comic and bitter-sweet magic on the denials, misunderstandings and preconceptions which persist between Native and Colonial culture in North America.
In ?The Boy in the Treehouse,” Simon, the son of an Ojibway mother and a British father, climbs into his half-finished tree house on the vision-quest his books say is necessary for him to reclaim his mother’s culture. ?It’s a Native thing,” he informs his incredulous father (who tells him he’d never heard of such a thing from his wife): ?Only boys do it. It’s part of becoming a man.” Of course, what with the threats of the police, the temptation of the barbeque next door, and the distractions of a persistent neighbourhood girl, Simon probably wouldn’t recognize a vision if he fell over it.
?Girl Who Loved Her Horses” is the Native name for the strange and quiet Danielle from the non-status community across the tracks, imbued with the mysterious power to draw the horse ?every human being on the planet wanted but could never have.” She is and remains an enigma to the people of the reservation, but the power of her spirit remains strong. Years later, a huge image of her horse reappears, covering an entire side of a building in a blighted urban landscape of beggars and broken dreams. The eyes of her stallion, which once gleamed exhilaration and freedom, now glare with defiance and anger. Danielle has clearly been forced to grow up.
With these two plays, Taylor rediscovers an issue long forgotten in our ?post-historical” age: the nature of, and the necessity for, these rites of passage in all cultures.
Drew Hayden Taylor has done many things, most of which he is proud of. An Ojibway from the Curve Lake First Nation in Ontario, he has worn many hats in his literary career, from performing stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., to being Artistic Director of Canada’s premiere Native theatre company, Native Earth Performing Arts. He has been an award-winning playwright (with over 70 productions of his work), a journalist/columnist (appearing regularly in several Canadian newspapers and magazines), short-story writer, novelist, television scriptwriter, and has worked on over 17 documentaries exploring the Native experience. Most notably, he wrote and directed REDSKINS, TRICKSTERS AND PUPPY STEW, a documentary on Native humour for the National Film Board of Canada.